Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the Big Bopper, Chantilly Lace and the number 6

Hello again everyone, look at this, two posts in just over a week! I’ve set Wednesday mornings aside to do marketing/pr/media type stuff, and am aiming to get a blog entry done every week as part of that. I’m going to try to tell you what’s going on here, but I’ll also talk about issues that affect us and stuff like that. And as my internal soundtrack is currently playing Chantilly Lace by the Big Bopper, today’s blog entry is brought to you by same, a la Sesame Street. The number six is the number of my daffodils (cut, not in the garden..boo) that opened up the day AFTER St David’s Day.

After last week’s shared decision making, we now have two women learning how to be supervisors. They came in to the sewing lesson yesterday to shadow the supervisers, and are supervising their peers today. I was interested to remember, yesterday, that the two groups of women we are working with have not really mixed, aside from a few people who have been in the same English lessons. We want to get to a stage where everyone who works here knows everyone who works here, it will support the co-operative structure well. But we have capacity to support up to 100 women at a time (more if we can get people willing to be keyholders and supervise evening or weekend work, not something I am prepared to do as well as the day job, if I conk out from exhaustion again, we’re dooooooomed!) so that might get unwieldy.

Over the last week we’ve done quite a lot of what I think of as tidying and sorting – not just of stuff but of how we do stuff. We are embedding a lot of procedures, which should make it a lot easier for people to just slot into our volunteer admin roles. J, (not sure she’s ok with me telling you her name, I’ll check) one of our new volunteers, is proving herself to be a diligent and hard worker and has initiative aplenty. I’ve a strong suspicion that she won’t be with us long – she is here to get experience to get a real paid job, and as she picks things up fast, she will be ready to fly soon. We’re getting towards having a list of jobs for every day so people can come in and see immediately what needs to be done.

Also, excitingly (honest. I actually am excited by this) we have a finance system! Hooray! It’s called Kashflow and it will track and manage our finances, sales, purchase, customers. It will be great to have all that in one place and will make the life of our wonderful bookkeeper easier I hope. I’ve been enjoying playing with it and am looking forward to getting it and our other systems integrated a bit. It’s astonishing how time consuming things like manually producing delivery notes are, so to be able to get them automatically generated will be excellent.

One of the things I have always wanted pants to be about is creating a space that women can come to, when they are not working, to use computers, or get other lessons, or just hang out with a cup of tea when they need a break. We’ve a few computers here (made of string and leftovers) which the women use to check stuff out online and to look at stuff on youtube, so that’s started. We’ve also started a series of advice and information sessions on a Thursday, which cover things like ESOL (English as a Second or other Language) and assertive communication, ESOL and family discussions about money, personal safety, how to access health care in the UK and so on. Ex mayor and Councillor, Parvin Damani explained to me that there is a big cultural gulf between our ‘see GP-get referred-see consultant-have treatment model’ and the ‘see doctor who knows how to do most things’ model which many of our women will have grown up with, and so she will be coming in to talk to the women about how they can access healthcare here. We know that some of the women have said they don’t have the language to talk abotu some issues so we’ll support them on that too, which is very exciting.

I’ve completely digressed from what I wanted to say about yesterday. Yesterday, the wonderful Sharon Keenan http://www.orchardtherapies.co.uk/staff.html, who I have been having fantastic therapeutic massages from for eight years, came in and ran a session with a few women on how to stretch, rest, relax and massage themselves. It was a fantastic success – one of the women said, ‘everyone should come to this class, it is good to know how to do this for ourselves’. Sharon is coming back today to repeat the session with our Wednesday group and has, brilliantly offered to do the same once a month for a year, free and gratis. I also had a massage from Sharon last night, and we played on the swings in town for ten minutes first. Big love Sharon 🙂

Even though we’ve a few people off sick today, we’re hoping to have a big pile of pants finished by the end of the session, loads just need bows, which are all hand sewn. We’re hoping too that we’ll have a feel for when our Tuesday class is going to be ready to go it alone, without trainers. They are really excited about it and so are we.

In other areas, I’m plugging away at some media stuff with fantastic advisers I was introduced to via UnLtd and the Media Trust. I’m also writing funding bids and hoping hard that someone does a man from Del Monte and says yes. March is very much about funding, finishing training, bedding in supervisers, volunteers, procedures and routines and (possibly) expansion. Next Monday is International Women’s Day, so we’re going to have a ginormous cake and hope that our volunteers and workers can come together and celebrate.

And now, in almost perfect Becky punctuality, it is 11AM, I’ve finished writing on time, and it’s time to stop for tea break. I’ll be back next week, hope you all have a fab time in this glorious spring sunshine.


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